MONDO EXTRAS

Traveler's Halt

by Jacob Clifton June 30, 2009
The Next Doctor

The pride on Lake's face, showing John Smith his TARDIS, is magnificent as the music that attends it. "There she is! My transport through time and space... Tethered Aerial Release, Developed In Style!" The Doctor finds all this adorable, but she's just a big blue balloon. If you were attempting to think of a form, a skeleton on which to spread the world and make sense of Impossible Things, I can think of no more fitting shadow of her than a hot-air balloon. That sense of adventure, that breathlessness. That heavy loft, above and below you, that makes you feel so much safer than you should. The way the basket swings back and forth so slowly, like you're being rocked to sleep: developed in style, indeed. We take the skies for granted, but listen to them. Young Jed, an employee of the nearby gasworks who keeps her gassed up and in repair, is another sort of Companion: "Maybe tonight's the night, Doctor. Imagine it, seeing Christmas from above!"

"...Well, not just yet, I think," says the friend. "One day, I will ascend. One day soon..." The Doctor asks but you can see in his eyes that he already knows the answer: "You've never actually been up?" Jackson's a bit embarrassed, behind the bluster and the excuses, and Rosita speaks for him. Companions carry the burdens. "He dreams of leaving, but never does." Lake nods, sharply: "I can depart in the TARDIS, once London is safe. And finally, when I'm up there... Think of it, John! The time, and the space..." The Doctor's sad. He dreams of leaving, but never does.

"The perfect escape." But where's he wandering, what's he leaving, what's he running from? What's there to escape? Even this new Doctor wonders. The Doctor hates this part. "...Then do you want me to tell you? Because I think I've worked it out now. How you became the Doctor. What do you think? Do you want to know?" He doesn't. Not really.

Mercy stands with Mr. Cole, Mr. Scoones, Mr. Fetch and Mr. Milligan, shiny new Cybus Bluetooths in their eyes, in a line. The Court of the CyberKing is waiting, of course, but first she tests her control of them, turning them left and right with a word before sending them out to get the labor: those children that belonged to them when they were alive. When they were merely monsters who were men and not monsters in mens' shapes. They head off in four directions and Mercy knocks the roof of her carriage with her red umbrella; a Cybershade drives her away.

The story begins, the Doctor begins, With the Cybermen... A long time away, and not so far from here, the Cybermen were fought and they were beaten. And they were sent into a howling wilderness called the Void, locked inside forevermore. But then a greater battle rose up, so great that everything inside the Void perished. But, as the walls of the world weakened, the last of the Cybermen must have fallen through the dimensions, back in time, to land here. And they found you... At the same time, another man came to London: Mr. Jackson Lake. Plenty of luggage, money in his pocket. Maybe coming to town for the winter season, I don't know. But he found the Cybermen too. "And just like you," says the Doctor to the Doctor, "Exactly like you -- he took hold of an infostamp..."

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